Shake Shack wants to take over a closed restaurant in the Mosaic District.
The burger-and-shake chain has been working through Fairfax County’s permitting process to move into the former Choolaah space at Suite 110, 2911 District Avenue, but it still lacks health, building, and other approvals.
Construction Journal and the Washington Business Journal previously reported the news, though the latter noted that plans could fall through. That was the case with a former Arby’s location that Shake Shack had planned for North Bethesda.
According to the WBJ, Shake Shack’s plans include an outdoor patio and bar-style seating inside:
Per the Mosaic plans, drawn up by Gensler, the Shake Shack will break down as 4,070 square feet inside and 668 square feet on the outdoor patio. Inside there will be bar-style, linear and open seating and four order kiosks. In addition to Gensler, the team includes Henderson Engineers, engineer KPFF and TriMark, a food service consultant and supplier.
An email sent to a Shake Shack spokesperson yesterday (Wednesday) wasn’t returned by the time this article was published.
The company’s only other location in Fairfax County is at Tysons Corner Center. It opened in 2014.
Choolaah, an Indian fast-casual food chain, opened in the Mosaic District in 2016 and temporarily shuttered amid the pandemic before announcing in January that the closure would be permanent.
Health, building, mechanical, and other reviews are listed as incomplete after Shake Shack saw permitting setbacks in September. Its application to the county was processed July 13 and is still listed as pending.
The Mosaic District will soon be a little emptier, with the impending closure of Wee Chic (2905 District Avenue, Suite 120) coming on the heels of the recent departure of Purée Artisan Juice Bar (Suite 140).
A chalkboard sign outside Wee Chic last Thursday (Sept. 16) indicated that the kids’ clothing boutique is currently having a “location closing” sale. Owner Bridget Quinn Strickline confirmed that Sunday (Sept. 26) will likely be the store’s last day.
Wee Chic launched its original store in Lutherville, Maryland, north of Baltimore in 2009 and expanded to Merrifield with its second location in the spring of 2019, just a month before its 10-year anniversary.
Stickline says she loved having the Mosaic store, which saw “very strong” business from young families with infants and toddlers, but it ultimately didn’t attract the balanced customer base needed to justify renewing the lease for the 1,800 square feet of space.
“We met wonderful customers that were terrific, and we had so much fun getting to know them and watching their little kids grow up over the few years we were there,” she said. “But we just didn’t develop those next two categories, which is the kid and the tween, and that’s essential to making our formula successful.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic “certainly wasn’t helpful,” it wasn’t a huge factor in the decision to leave the Mosaic District, Stickline says, expressing appreciation for the support that property owner Edens offered Wee Chic and other merchants over the past year of shutdowns and public health restrictions.
Mosaic customers can still order from Wee Chic by phone and online, two options added while the physical stores were closed in the spring of 2020. Stickline previously resisted the allure of e-commerce, preferring in-person interactions, but she says the online store “was a lifesaver” during the pandemic.
In addition, the 3,000 square-foot Lutherville location is not only still open, but remains so successful that Wee Chic recently launched a new, teen-focused brand called Girlhero in the same shopping center.
Stickline hasn’t ruled out a return to Northern Virginia for Wee Chic or Girlhero, which she says is “off to a great start.”
“We love the Northern Virginia market,” Stickline said. “I think it’s a matter of kind of figuring out where the right mix of clients are for us, where we get kind of all of the age groups represented really well and we can be a part of that community.”
Just down the street from Wee Chic, Purée Juice Bar has been shuttered. Signs posted to its windows encourage patrons to visit its other locations at The Boro and in D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland.
Purée Director of Marketing and E-commerce Jordan von Lange says the company closed its Mosaic District store on Aug. 31, citing a decline in foot traffic and the widespread hiring challenges that have stymied the country’s retail and service industries.
“Our lease was ending in October and we decided not to extend the lease due to a decrease in foot traffic in the Mosaic area and close up early because the staffing shortage,” van Lange said. “We also just opened up a new location close by inside the Whole Foods in The Boro at Tysons so wanted to pursue that opportunity instead.”
The women’s fashion store Francesca’s (Suite C10) also appears to be closed, as Yelp users have reported, but a customer service representative told Tysons Reporter by phone that the company has shut down several of its stores recently for remodeling.
An email to Francesca’s corporate office asking whether the Mosaic District closure is permanent did not get a response by press time. The clothing retailer’s Tysons Corner Center location remains open.
On the heels of its Scotts Run opening, Archer Hotel is now taking aim at another site in the Tysons area.
This time, instead of building a new building from scratch, hotel management company LodgeWorks Partners plans to renovate and convert the existing Hyatt House property in Merrifield into an Archer Hotel, adding an eighth location to its proprietary, boutique brand.
While Archer Hotels comprise the bulk of its portfolio, LodgeWorks also owns and operates hotels from larger, national companies, including four Hyatt Houses, which were designed for extended stays.
Located at 8296 Glass Alley, the seven-story, 148-room Merrifield Hyatt House has been at the Mosaic District since the mixed-use development opened on the old Multiplex Cinemas site by Route 29 in 2012.
With the renovation, the site will become Archer Hotel Falls Church. It is LodgeWorks’ first conversion, according to President Mike Daood.
“We developed this hotel back in 2012 as an upscale, independent lifestyle hotel — and it’s incredibly exciting to return to those roots,” Daood told Tysons Reporter by email. “…It’s an irreplaceable asset in one of the area’s most innovative retail and entertainment districts and a tremendous fit for Archer.”
According to Archer Hotel’s website, the conversion process will begin on Dec. 15 with remodeling work starting in January 2022. The hotel will remain open during its renovation.
“With thoughtful planning, we’ll work to ensure that our guests are comfortable with minimal disruption during the transition,” Archer Hotel says.
Like Archer Hotel Tysons, which opened near the McLean Metro station on Tuesday (Sept. 14), the Merrifield location will offer four different room designs. Amenities will include an AKB hotel bar with food and beverages, daily turndown treats for guests, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Daood says Archer’s two D.C.-area hotels “will tout Virginia-centric design and stories,” but every site in the brand is unique.
“Each will be special in its own right,” he said.
Archer Hotel’s expansion comes amid continued struggles for the hospitality industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association projected in August that the industry will finish 2021 with a $59 billion decline in revenue from business travel compared to 2019, exceeding the nearly $49 billion lost in 2020.
According to the analysis, which was conducted by Kalibri Labs, the D.C. region’s market will collect $2.7 billion less from business travel this year than it did in 2019 — an 86.5% dip. The only market expected to see a bigger difference is New York City, which has an anticipated revenue gap of $4 billion.
Local hotel managers and workers started to see some signs of life early this summer, but occupancy rates were still around 50%, noticeably down from pre-pandemic times. A study commissioned by Tysons Partnership predicted the area’s hotels might not recover until 2025, and that was before the Delta variant clouded the future once again.
Fairfax County Recognizes 9/11 Anniversary — For those who missed it, watch the remembrance ceremony that Fairfax County held on Saturday (Sept. 11) to mark 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. The Town of Vienna commemorated the occasion with a ceremony of its own, and the McLean Community Center posted a “Taps” tribute with comments from local faith leaders.
Virginia DMV to Resume Walk-in Services — “Beginning Oct. 5, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles customers may choose to schedule an appointment for service or opt for walk-in service on alternating days at all 75 customer service centers…During the pandemic, [the] DMV began operating by appointment only as it reopened offices in May 2020 after a temporary closure due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.” [Inside NoVA]
Robbery Reported in Mosaic District — A man told Fairfax County police on Sept. 4 that an acquaintance had assaulted him and taken his property in the 2900 block of District Avenue in Merrifield. Police arrested the suspect, who fled the scene of the assault, on Sept. 7 and charged him with robbery and malicious wounding. The victim went to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]
Lee Highway Renaming Task Force Meets Tonight — The Confederate Names Task Force appointed to determine whether Fairfax County should rename Lee Highway (Route 29) and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway (Route 50) will hold its second meeting at 7 p.m. today (Monday). The meeting will be virtual and can be followed online, on Channel 16, or by phone at 703-324-5300. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Stops by Dunn Loring — Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for Virginia’s governor, announced his policy priorities yesterday (Monday) outside the construction company CJ Coakley Co. Inc. in Dunn Loring. The package includes $1.8 billion in one-time tax cuts, a pledge to create 400,000 new jobs, raises for school teachers, and the addition of 20 new charter schools. Opponent Terry McAuliffe called the plan “out of touch the state’s fiscal reality.” [The Washington Post]
Nonprofit to Open Office in Vienna Church — “A nonprofit focused on providing a day program for adults with disabilities is opening a new administrative office at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Vienna. The grand opening of the SPARC office will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at the church, located at 2351 Hunter Mill Road.” [Patch]
Mosaic District Gym to Host Vaccine Clinic — “@fairfaxhealth will have a Pop-up COVID-19 Vax Clinic at nearby XSport Fitness (8190 Strawberry Lane) on Tuesday, 8/31 from 3PM-7PM. The 1st (or 2nd) dose Pfizer jab will be available to anyone ages 12+ for free. Walk-ins welcome, or make an appt” [City of Falls Church/Twitter]
Vienna Ben & Jerry’s Offers Free Ice Cream for Solar Art Contest — The Ben & Jerry’s in Vienna has partnered with Ipsun Solar on the solar panel company’s fourth Sunny Summer Art Contest, where kids can submit artwork inspired by the sun and the need to find solutions to climate change. All participants will get a coupon for a free ice cream cone from Ben & Jerry’s Vienna, and winners will get gift cards. [Ipsun Solar]
Bloomie’s is officially opening for business.
Bloomingdale’s smaller, more curated retail concept will welcome its first customers at noon today (Thursday) to kick off a three-day grand opening event in Merrifield’s Mosaic District. The 22,000 square-foot store is the first Bloomie’s to open in the country.
“We’re excited to introduce ‘Bloomie’s,’ our all-new store concept that brings the energy of Bloomingdale’s to a smaller style and service destination,” said Susan Cannaday, the general manager for Bloomingdale’s Tysons Corner location and the new Bloomie’s store.
Cannaday says Bloomie’s is “designed to create a sense of discovery,” with a curated, rotating assortment of merchandise that includes contemporary and luxury brands for clothing, cosmetics, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and other beauty items and accessories.
According to a press release, women’s apparel brands include Ganni, Staud, Maje, Rag & Bone, Cult Gaia, Jonathan Simkhai STANDARD, LoveShackFancy, Moussy, Mother, FRAME, RE/DONE, and AQUA. Meanwhile, the men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories sections include brands like Vince, Helmut Lang, Salomon, Barbour, and McQ.
To mark the store’s launch, Bloomingdale’s is also reintroducing a “Bloomie’s” brand. The first collection includes 35 special pieces from varsity jackets to combat boots to a special edition Zippo lighter. It will be available at Bloomie’s, Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship, and online.
“We were strategic in selecting the right categories and brands that reflect the local lifestyle, and offer services that meet our customers’ needs,” Cannaday said. “Whether you’re exploring the latest fashion and beauty trends, grabbing a bite at Colada Shop or working with a stylist, all of this can be done at Bloomie’s.”
Bloomie’s also features a new location for the D.C.-based Colada Shop, a restaurant that specializes in cocktails, coffee, and Cuban-inspired food.
Services offered at the store include a returns drop box, curbside pickup, and an option to pick up online purchases in-person. A customization desk provides personalization, monogramming, and alteration services.
“Bloomie’s is designed to be a more convenient and casual concept that fits into our customer’s everyday lifestyle,” Bloomingdale’s CEO Tony Spring said in the press release. “With our staff of stylists, omni services, lively restaurant, and elevated assortment, Bloomie’s can be their favorite neighborhood store.”
While today is the official opening, Bloomingdale’s started introducing its Bloomie’s concept to the Mosaic District neighborhood earlier this month with a pop-up at the Sunday FRESHFARM markets. Cannaday says they were “thrilled with the engagement we’ve seen from the local community.”
EDENS, the Mosaic District developer and property owner, says it is excited about the partnership with Bloomingdale’s to launch “a bold new concept.”
“Consumer preferences continue to evolve, but retail’s role in bringing people together remains fundamentally unchanged,” EDENS CEO Jodie McLean said in the press release. “Bloomie’s is designed to engage people and will serve more as a hub for experiences, with a focus on fashion.”
Bloomingdale’s existing presence in the Tysons area made the Mosaic District an appropriate place to introduce the Bloomie’s concept, according to Cannaday.
“We have two powerful existing Bloomingdale’s stores in the area with our Chevy Chase and Tysons Corner locations, so Bloomie’s enters a market where customers know our brand,” she said. “We chose this location within Mosaic District…because it provides an approachable and convenient location for the local communities.”
Bloomingdale’s is set to open its first-ever Bloomie’s in Merrifield.
According to a media alert, the store will host a three-day block party to kick off its grand opening, which will continue through Saturday. The festivities will begin at noon and run through 6 p.m. each day.
The party will be open to the public and will feature life-size outdoor games, beauty demonstrations, complimentary customization services with a Bloomie’s purchase, and various family-friendly activities, including sketch artists and a balloon artist.
In addition, the adjoining Colada Shop will serve happy hour food and drink specials from 3 to 6 p.m. during the party. Visitors can also get a ticket for a complimentary gift at the new clothing store.
The grand opening events will be hosted in cooperation with SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center of Fairfax County, Inova Health Foundation, McLean Project for the Arts, and When We All Vote.
Construction is starting today (Tuesday) on Pupatella’s upcoming location in the Mosaic District, a spokesperson for the local pizza chain told Tysons Reporter.
Founded in 2007 by Enzo and Anastasiya Algarme, Pupatella began life as a food truck before opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Arlington in 2010.
As first reported yesterday by the Washington Business Journal, Pupatella says it has secured a $7.5 million investment that will enable it to add as many as 15 pizzerias over the next few years.
New locations that have been confirmed so far are the Mosaic restaurant and a West Springfield site. Three other sites are currently under negotiation, including what would be the chain’s first Maryland site.
“Our focus is always going to be neighborhood Neapolitan,” Enzo Algarme said in a press release. “Our most recent capital raise gives us the opportunity to bring the true Naples pizzeria experience to more communities. It’s a dream that keeps growing for us.”
According to the spokesperson, Pupatella is aiming to open its Mosaic restaurant in late 2021.
It will join several other Italian venues at the Merrifield mixed-use development, which already has Alta Strada, Oath Pizza, and Matchbox Pizza. Most recently, The Italian Place opened across the street from Pupatella this past weekend, but a planned grand opening celebration has been delayed until later this month.
An Italian restaurant based in Alexandria is expanding with a second location at the Mosaic District in Merrifield, but patrons will have to wait a little longer than anticipated to try a sub or slice of pizza.
The Italian Place had planned to welcome customers to its new spot at 2985 District Avenue (Suite 190) this Saturday (July 24), but the grand opening will be delayed to August because more time is needed to prepare, owner and CEO Adriana Penachio-Sifakis says.
The restaurant confirmed the delay on Tuesday (July 20) on Facebook.
“We wished we had more hours in the day to prepare for our opening, and with thousands of RSVP’s for our upcoming grand opening ceremony, we will be postponing our opening by another week or so!” Penachio-Sifakis told Tysons Reporter by email.
She added that they hope to announce an exact opening date within the next week.
Penachio-Sifakis opened The Italian Place at 621 Wythe Street in Old Town Alexandria in September 2016, inspired by the traditions and values imparted by her grandparents, who were the children of immigrants from a small province outside Naples, according to the restaurant’s website.
A photo of Naples adorns one wall of the new Mosaic District site, which also features an espresso bar.
“We are humbled by the love and appreciation our customers have for our food!” Penachio-Sifakis said. “They come back and they tell their friends about us and that really keeps us going!”
Encouraged by the restaurant’s warm reception in Alexandria, Penachio-Sifakis started exploring the idea of franchising in early 2020. She says her team “really fell in love” with the Mosaic District when they visited after the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, citing the development’s “outdoor walkability” and the quality of the brands there.
“[Mosaic District property owner EDENS] is led by a woman which impressed me and certainly persuaded me to expand my operation to a professionally and well-run community that has so many exciting plans for their residents and their visitors,” she said. “They have been enjoyable to work with and we look forward to a long-term relationship with them and have also viewed some of their other successful properties.”
The Italian Place’s menu features pizza, a variety of Italian subs, paninis, salads, and pasta. There are also breakfast options and soup specials, along with a new “secret” menu that includes a tuna melt sub, an Italian grinder, and a Mosaic classic sub with salami, provolone cheese, hot pepper spread, and other toppings.
The Italian Place will expand the Italian dining options at the Mosaic District, which currently has Alta Strada, Matchbox Pizza, Oath Pizza, and Dolcezza Gelato.
The Mexican restaurant Urbano, another import from Alexandria, opened there in December. The development will also get the first Virginia location of the D.C.-based Carribean eatery Colada Shop in conjunction with a small Bloomingdale’s store called Bloomie’s that is expected to open in August.
(Updated at 8:15 p.m. on 7/23/2021) Fairfax County School Board Members at Nats Park During Shooting — Karl Frisch and Megan McLaughlin, who respectively represent the Providence and Braddock districts on the school board, were at Nationals Park on Saturday (July 17) when gunfire outside the stadium sent fans running for cover and suspended the game. Three people were injured in the shooting, including a woman who was attending the game, according to police. [Karl Frisch/Twitter, Megan McLaughlin/Twitter]
Virginia Announces Universal Broadband Plan — Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan on Friday (July 16) to invest $700 million to make broadband services universally accessible throughout the state. The funds will come from the state’s $4.3 billion federal COVID-19 relief allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act. [The Washington Post]
Mosaic District Art Gallery Presents New Show — The Torpedo Factory Artists Association will present the results of its regional painting competition at The Gallery @ Mosaic (links corrected) from July 23 through August 22. With more than 30 paintings from nearly 400 submissions, the show will the association’s first regional painting showcase and give the pop-up gallery its first in-person reception since it recently reopened after closing for the COVID-19 pandemic. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
McLean Little League Softball Teams Celebrate Strong Seasons — “It has been the case for many years now, so it was no surprise that McLean Little League all-star girls softball teams again had strong showings in recent state tournaments, with one squad winning the championship and two others finishing second.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]